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Sunday, June 13, 2021

Hyderabad NGO says trees being chopped despite HC order, to sue govt for contempt

The Court had on May 13 stayed the felling of 244 trees in Gandipet and asked authorities to consider translocation, as requested by the NGO Vata Foundation.

Written by Rahul V Pisharody | Hyderabad |
Updated: May 26, 2021 8:08:02 pm
telangana high court, Gandipet treees, hyderabad news, Gandipet tree cutting highway, vata foundation, indian expressUday Krishna has been tweeting photos with what they claim are time and place stamps of fully grown trees being felled on the Gandipet stretch. (Photo: Twitter/@vata_foundation)

Claiming that trees have been felled to widen a road on Hyderabad’s outskirts despite a Telangana High Court stay, a city-based NGO has issued a legal notice to the state government for not honouring court orders, and has said will initiate contempt proceedings soon.

The Court had on May 13 stayed the felling of 244 trees in Gandipet and asked authorities to consider translocation, as requested by the NGO. The HC posted the matter for next hearing on June 14, saying no tree should be chopped in the meantime. However, the NGO has now alleged that as many as 18 big trees, including a Banyan more than 80 years old, have been uprooted.

Vata Foundation’s notice, dated May 25, was issued to the principal secretary (forest department), the forest divisional officer, the Tree Protection Committee, the executive engineer of roads division for Gandipet, and the district collector of Rangareddy district. Uday Krishna Peddi Reddy, founding trustee of Vata Foundation, on Wednesday alleged that trees continue to be chopped unabated, and the stumps are being uprooted to erase any trace of their existence.

“Several citizens have come forward to save these trees at no cost to the government. All they (the department) had to do was let us save the trees unless they were looking for firewood, for which there is a huge demand today,” he told IndianExpress.com.

For widening the road between Gandipet and Shankarpally villages in Rangareddy district, the authorities had identified, in December last, as many as 244 of 286 trees to be felled along the 2.5-km stretch. Vata Foundation had expressed its willingness to translocate such trees and bear the costs.

After the court issued a stay on further felling of trees, Uday Krishna said he had on May 17 emailed a detailed schedule for translocation of trees, the number of trees to be translocated each day, etc., as sought by the department. “I have neither received a response nor an acknowledgment. Instead, what we see is that trees are chopped down despite the stay order. With lockdown in place, it would take a couple of weeks to mobilise resources,” he said, adding that the NGO has found citizens who have agreed to adopt the trees for their farmlands within a 10-km radius of Gandipet.

When contacted, an officer from the R&B department said he was yet to receive a copy of the stay order. “When we came to know of the Court’s order, we communicated the same to the agency commissioned to uproot trees,” he said. Asked why trees were being felled despite the court’s order, he said no such incidents have come to his notice yet.

Meanwhile, Uday Krishna has been tweeting photos with a time and place stamp of fully grown trees being felled on the Gandipet stretch, and claims to have shared the details with officials concerned via WhatsApp. “The Banyan tree was over 80 years old. It was about 35-ft tall and had a girth of about 18 feet. It was a very large tree and each branch could have propagated into a new tree,” he said.

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